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State Senator Morrissey says now is the time to ban assault-style weapons

Joe Morrissey
Steve Helber
In this Thursday, March 5, 2020 photo, Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, speaks during an interview in his office at the Capitol in Richmond, Va.

The two recent mass shootings in Virginia are re-energizing the debate over preventing gun violence. And, that's once again raising talk about banning assault-style weapons.

The sale of assault-style weapons was banned in Virginia for a decade under federal law, although now they’re legal again. And the recent mass shootings are causing some elected officials to once again consider a state ban.

"I’m not going to go light on this. I'm going heavy. I'm going in big to stop this," says Senator Joe Morrissey, a Democrat from Richmond.

"The Second Amendment does not give you the right to possess in public an AK-47 or an assault rifle. As I've said until I'm blue in the face, almost every one of those amendments that were added after the Constitution was passed are not unfettered rights."

But Philip Van Cleve at the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League says that's a solution in search of a problem.

"A so-called assault weapon was not used in the shooting in Chesapeake. Again, we're running off on a tangent and picking on something that has nothing to do with it," Van Cleve says. "This is so typical of the other side to bring in issues that are not related at all to something that recently happened. They do this all the time."

Democrats were unable to pass an assault weapons ban when they were in control of the General Assembly, so it seems pretty unlikely now that Republicans control the House of Delegates. Nevertheless, Senator Morrissey says it's time to have that conversation again.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.